115: Remembrances

A Thousand Things to Talk About
115: Remembrances


Do you keep photos of your family on your desk / in your wallet / close by at work?

Show notes and links:
Clear your desk of family photos? (Ask Annie)
Being Able to Personalize Your Workspace May Have Psychological Benefits (Association for Psychological Science)
Workspace Personalization: Clutter or meaningful personal displays? (Business Lexington)

Full episode text

In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers took a look at the impact of privacy in the workspace. They looked at how standard offices – with four opaque walls and a door – compared to open workspaces without these separation when it comes to employee emotional exhaustion and stress levels.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the research found that when you’re working in an open workspace, you tend to use more emotional energy each day — perhaps dealing with distractions and the possibility that your coworkers could even unintentionally be looking over your shoulder – than workers in enclosed offices.

The study, however, found one other piece of interesting information – that the ability to personalize a space reduced the amount of stress the employee felt, even in the open workspace.

Which jives with several other previous studies about the importance of workplace personalization. In an article by researcher Meredith Wells-Lepley, she discusses how her research has shown that personalization has positive impacts on the workplace environment, from encouraging social connections with co-workers to increasing the perceived and actual connection and dedication an individual has to that place that they are working.

But, as with many things, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In a University of Michigan Ross School of Business study, researchers found that the “ideal” ratio is about 22% personal items. More than about one out of five “personal” items on your desk is an invitation to view for others to view your space as “unprofessional.” Though, thankfully, plants are not viewed as personal items in this study.